Gorin Goho Gogyo
The Meaning of 岩波 (iwanami)
岩波 Iwanami (pronounced ee waa naa mee) translates literally
as rock wave. The meaning, however, has more depth. Iwanami
is the action of waves crashing against rocks. Seemingly,
the rocks are unaffected by the waves.
However, the waves over time (a great deal of time) slowly
erode the rock. It is this idea, the constant action of the
waves slowly moving the seemingly immovable rock, which we
endeavor to personify.
The waves are analogous to practicing Shinkendo and the rock
analogous to fully comprehending Shinkendo. If one practices
Shinkendo diligently, one can erode the barriers to fully
Traditional Japanese Swordsmanship
Shinkendo is comprised of five distinct elements, referred to as the Gorin Goho Gogyo. These elements are:
- Isolating and practicing the basics of ken sabaki (sword
movement), tai sabaki (body movement), ashi sabaki (foot movement),
and toho jussinho (the basic ten sword methods).
- Solo forms simultaneously utilizing multiple aspects of
suburi with complimentary movements.
- Like tanrengata with an emphasis on powerful and efficient
cuts from the draw. Drawing and sheathing is practiced in
- Paired sparring forms that develop the practitioner's
coordination and ability to harmonize with an opponent. Specifically
the practitioner develops awase (timing), maai (distance to
target), hohaba (balance), rhythm, and kiai.
- Test cutting with a live blade (a shinken). Typical target
materials include tatami omote and bamboo (either Nihondake
or Mosodake - - Japanese or Chinese Bamboo). Tameshigiri offers
practical insight into principles such as hasuji (edge angles),
tachisuji (sword swing-angles), and tenouchi (grip).
(Paraphrased from Obata, 1999)
These five elements form a comprehensive curriculum that,
when practiced with sincerity and commitment, interweave to
form a style of swordsmanship that is greater than the sum of
Shinkendo students begin training with a wooden sword called
a bokuto, and as their skill level and control of the blade
progress they will advance to training with an iaito (or mogito,
an unsharpened blade). Given sufficient time and ability,
students eventually learn to use a shinken (live blade).
In addition to being a licensed ISF
dojo, we are also a member dojo of the Kokusai
Toyama Ryu Renmei, established by Shinkendo founder Toshishiro Obata
Obata, T., 1999, Shinkendo: Japanese Swordsmanship, International
Shinkendo Federation, p. 29.
Scott, N., 1998, Written transmission.
The International Shinkendo
Federation is an organization dedicated to teaching authentic
Japanese swordsmanship. Shinkendo emphasizes traditional and
effective swordsmanship, which, with serious training, leads
to both practical ability as well as an understanding of classical
martial arts. It is steeped in the traditions of the Samurai,
such as Heiho (strategy), physical training, and proper Bushido
etiquette and philosophy (Scott, 1998).